Get into High Gear with Gearing

by Kelvin Kingsley

12:02 PM, 9th May 2012
About 8 years ago

Get into High Gear with Gearing

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Get into High Gear with Gearing

Using Finance to Increase your Returns

After recently attending local property networking events it still amazes me that investors think it’s a good idea to buy properties for cash. Firstly, the financial returns are less when a property is purchased for cash. Secondly, it means a large amount of cash is tied up for six months as no remortgaging can take place until a period of six months has elapsed. This means if a bargain property opportunity comes along within that six month period you will miss out, unless you have more cash to hand. So start as you mean to go on i.e. gear the property on purchase with a mortgage, ideally 75% to 80% loan to value mortgage.
Without Gearing

Mr & Mrs Smith don’t believe in finance. They use their £100,000 accumulated savings to purchase one investment property for cash. They let the property for £600 per month, i.e. £7,200 per annum. Due to inflation, the rent increases and eventually, after 5 years of fluctuations in the property market, the house increases in value by say 40%.

Outcome – MR & MRS Smith property investment now = £140,000
Note: This example of without gearing could be said as the same as if it were a stock market investment.

With Gearing

Mr & Mrs Jones use their £100,000 accumulated savings as deposits to buy £500,000 (five) of properties, just like the one Mr and Mrs Smith purchased. On this basis they also receive five times as much rental income, i.e. £3,000 per month or £36,000 per annum. The other £400,000 is borrowed (80% Loan to Value) and they pay interest on this amount of 5.0%. This works out to be £20,000 per annum. Therefore, net of interest they receive £16,000 per annum.

They are already better off than Mr & Mrs Smith, but what happens in years to come? Well it is probably safe to say that Mr and Mrs Joneses rental income will rise with inflation as per Mr & Mrs Smith. However, Mr & Mrs Joneses mortgage costs remain the same. Therefore, the gap between both couples rental income will continue to widen as time goes by!

We then need to look at the year 5 positions, when the properties have increased in value by say 40%. Mr & Mrs Smith have made a capital gain of £40,000 and have £140,000 worth of investment property. On the other hand, Mr and Mrs Jones have made a capital gain of £200,000, five times as much as Mr & Mrs Smith’s cash property investment (or stock market investment).

Outcome – Mr & Mrs Joneses property investment now = £700,000

The same principle is true whether you buy investment properties of £50,000 or £200,000. The larger the property value, for instance 10 times more, the greater the potential capital gain (£500,000 per property), but the greater the potential loss if property values goes down.

Note: As the property value goes up the rental yield generally comes down, which can lead to negative cash flow, and a definite negative cash flow if interest rates go up significantly.

Portfolio Building

As explained above many investors purchase investment properties for cash to create both an instant income and a property portfolio. Alternatively the funding process known as “Gearing” can be implemented.

As stipulated the mortgage amount is paid by the rental income; the difference represents the investor’s profit. There is no limit to the size of the portfolio that can be produced by implementing this system!

Let’s now look at what happens when Mr & Mrs Jones refinance their five properties after 5 years by the use of further advance/ re-mortgaging. Remember after 5 years their portfolio is now worth £700,000 in this example. At 80% Loan to Value this will raise £160,000 as an ‘Equity Release’ i.e. £560,000 less original borrowings of £400,000.

Mr & Mrs Jones then use the £160,000 as deposits to buy £800,000 (eight) of £100,000 properties. On this basis they now receive thirteen times (5 + 8) as much rental income, i.e. £600 x 13 = £7,800 per month or £93,600 per annum. Their total borrowings now total £640,000 + £400,000 = £1,040,000 (80% Loan to Value) and they pay interest on this amount of 5.0%. This works out to be £52,000 per annum. Therefore, net of interest they receive £41,600 per annum.

Outcome – Mr & Mrs Jones property investment now = £800,000 + £700,000 = £1,500,000

To some investors this all now starts to look very worrying, all those 000’s at first glance can look a daunting prospect. However, you shouldn’t be afraid of debt, just be mindful of it. After all, nations and countries are built on debt; America has over 15 Trillion dollars of debt.

Debt only becomes worrying and a problem if there is no mechanism to service the debt. Fortunately property provides a good and dependable income stream that can adequately service the debt providing the properties are not over geared (over financed), and exhibit a reasonable ‘Gross Yield’ of 7% or above.

Moving another 5 years ahead; due to inflation, the rent increases and eventually, after 5 years of fluctuations in the property market, the house increases in value by say another 40%. Note: This is fair to assume as since the 1950’s property prices have doubled on average every 7 to 10 years.

Outcome – Mr & Mrs Smith investment now increases from £140,000 by £56,000 to £196,000.

For Mr & Mrs Smith this represents a £96,000 increase on their original investment of £100,000, which is great but as you will now find out it’s not even half as great as the Joneses.

Outcome – Mr & Mrs Joneses investment increases from £1,500,000 by £600,000 to £2,100,000.

For Mr & Mrs Jones this represents a £960,000 (£2,100,000 less borrowings of £1,040,000 and £100,000 investment) or 10 times/ 1,000% gains on the original investment of £100,000. This means the Joneses are now property millionaires. Not only that let’s now look at the rental income situation for both parties now that 10 years has elapsed.

Note: It’s reasonable to assume that with inflation the rental income would increase by 50%, just as a loaf of Bread costing £1 will be £1.50 in 10 years’ time.

Rental Income Outcome – Mr & Mrs Smith £600 + 50% = £900 per month/ £10,800 per annum
Rental Income Outcome – Mr & Mrs Jones £7,800 + 50% = £11,700 per month/ £140,400 per annum less mortgage/ borrowing interest of £52,000 = £88,400 per annum

From this simple illustration you can see the Joneses are now living on easy street and the Smiths will still have to count the pennies in their later years. Furthermore when one property is empty (Rental Void Periods) the Smiths lose 100% their rental income, whereas the Joneses only lose 8% of their rental income; safety in numbers.

Caveat Emptor Statement – “Note for ease of illustration property maintenance and management costs have been excluded; this is just meant to be an illustration of what ‘Gearing’ can do providing you gain further knowledge on property management and investment skills.”

“So do try to Keep Up with the Joneses”



Comments

Mark Alexander

12:19 PM, 9th May 2012
About 8 years ago

Hi Kelvin

 

Well written, however, run those
figures through our Number Crunchers and they don’t look so good.

 

Reality is that the Jones’ need to
budget for the following:-

 

Ø 
Voids
say 21 days every 18 months, i.e. 14 days per annum = say £300 per annum

Ø 
Maintenance
at say £60 pcm = £720 pcm

Ø 
Lettings
and management fees at say 12% per annum = £864

Ø 
Insurance
at say £150 per annum

Ø 
Gas
safety certificate say £60 per annum

Ø 
Accountancy,
say £100 per annum

Ø 
TOTAL - £2,194 per annum which I believe to be a
realistic annual budget per property based on an average of 5 years ownership.

 

The Jones’ profits are therefore
£10,970 per annum less than you have suggested over the five year period. Even
the slightest mishap such as a bad payer or a 1% interest rate rise and they
are going to run into cashflow problems very quickly unless they have big surpluses on
their incomes or an additional "war chest". They could, of course
purchase RGI (Rent Guarantee Insurance) and fix their interest rates but that
would wipe out the entire balance of their £1,030 per annum of profits. In
short, I wouldn't consider a 7% yield is enough to comfortably service 80%
gearing at todays rates of circa 4% over base. In the days where lifetime base
rate trackers were available at less than 1% over bank base rate that was a
different matter.

I would suggest a minimum yield
requirement to support new 80% lending in todays market needs to be 12% plus.
Either that or reduce the LTV considerably, unless of course the borrower has
access to a cash war chest of say 20% of the value of all borrowings. Based on
my 20% liquidity rule of thumb, Mr & Mrs Jones would need to start off with
£180,000 and not £100,000 to be safe with your proposed strategy.

 

Mark Alexander

12:20 PM, 9th May 2012
About 8 years ago

Hi Kelvin

 

Well written, however, run those
figures through our Number Crunchers and they don’t look so good.

 

Reality is that the Jones’ need to
budget for the following:-

 

Voids say 21 days every 18
months, i.e. 14 days per annum = say £300 per annum

Maintenance at say £60 pcm =
£720 pcm

Lettings and management fees at
say 12% per annum = £864

Insurance at say £150 per annum

Gas safety certificate say £60
per annum

Accountancy, say £100 per annum

TOTAL - £2,194 per annum which
I believe to be a realistic annual budget per property based on an
average of 5 years ownership.

 

The Jones’ profits are therefore
£10,970 per annum less than you have suggested over the five year period. Even
the slightest mishap such as a bad payer or a 1% interest rate rise and they
are going to run into cashflow problems very quickly unless they have big surpluses on
their incomes or an additional "war chest". They could, of course
purchase RGI (Rent Guarantee Insurance) and fix their interest rates but that
would wipe out the entire balance of their £1,030 per annum of profits. In
short, I wouldn't consider a 7% yield is enough to comfortably service 80%
gearing at todays rates of circa 4% over base. In the days where lifetime base
rate trackers were available at less than 1% over bank base rate that was a
different matter.

I would suggest a minimum yield
requirement to support new 80% lending in todays market needs to be 12% plus.
Either that or reduce the LTV considerably, unless of course the borrower has
access to a cash war chest of say 20% of the value of all borrowings. Based on
my 20% liquidity rule of thumb, Mr & Mrs Jones would need to start off with
£180,000 and not £100,000 to be safe with your proposed strategy.

18:48 PM, 9th May 2012
About 8 years ago

Having to keep it down to +/-1,000 words per blog means this article can not include property management and or
maintenance costs. There’s just not enough room to go into property costs as well as management costs and various funding
arrangements as that would take another 500 words.

There are too many
variables from person to person, place to place and property to property. So the premise for this article had to be an average rental yield of 7% and no costs other than mortgage
interest.

This article must not be read as a be all and end all. One must consider the gaining of extra skills to manage the whole financial process. Basically what surrounds this article is the whole process of property investing itself. Gearing is the process to greatly improve portfolio growth and performance.

 

For me property maintenance costs are extremely low as I buy new
or almost new property. I no longer advocate the buying of old properties, maintenance costs are generally too high. I also self-manage city centre apartments
and get six months free management costs on houses (8% thereafter), and there’s
also the 2 or 3 year mortgage teaser rates to consider.

So “There’s just too many variables that would
overly complicate this article, which is to purely and simply as possible
to illustrate the power and benefits of using finance (gearing) instead of just
cash.” This article is supposed to be; a glimpse of what could
be, providing other knowledge and disciplines are gained.

I personally did exactly what it states in this article and more, and that’s exactly how it
all turned out; instead of planting a few trees I planted a forest. Sure there were some ups and
down’s and property income shortfall some years, but that was easily paid for from
property re-sale profits as explained in other articles/ blogs. Beyond the simple process explained everything
else falls outside the scope of this article and makes up what is a complete
property investment startegy.

18:56 PM, 9th May 2012
About 8 years ago

I also neglected to mention no rental increases were spoke of until year 10. In reality every 3 years rents can be tweaked upwards.

19:35 PM, 9th May 2012
About 8 years ago

Future Proofing Gearing Proposal

One could take a fixed interest rate mortgage for 5 years at 5.5% to 6%. Then at the end of the 5 years rents would be +/- 25% higher. Maybe even opt for Loan to value reduction; a less agressive stance of 75% or 70% mortgage could be taken. You could even speak to your financial advisor about interest rate hedging products.

Also the adding of apartments with higher yields could balance out lower yield houses.

One could buy newer property to keep maintenance costs right down and even do repairs one self. One could also self manage the properties instead of using a letting agent, but this is not always advised as your time is valueable.

Finally, selling one property now and again for profit balances the books nicely; selling properties now and again is what balanced my rental books back in 2004 to 2007.

22:06 PM, 9th May 2012
About 8 years ago

This is out of date thinking - it only works in a rising market with ample low mortage rates in a competitive banking environment.
Non of that is true today.
10 properties may well produce more rent than 1 but how many portfolio landlords can honestly say that they prefer today's economic environment to the one in 1997? In those days you could release equity and buy 2 or 3 properties a year without blinking. Increases in net rental income due to the crisis won't enable us to do that.
Realistically the costs largely cancel out any net rental income so buy to let is best thought of as a long term growth in capital. 
Right now I feel investors should be sitting on their hands until direction returns to the market.

13:28 PM, 10th May 2012
About 8 years ago

Sorry and with all due respect, but that is where you are missing the current opportunity and the big long term picture. Great investing and the same is true about stock market investing is all about buying when, for want of better words; "There is blood on the streets. During the Great US Depression of 1920/ 30's there were more Millionaires made then, than before.

The use of Gearing is how I went safely and correctly from 40 to 80 properties since the Credit Crunch. How? By buying extremly well at discounts a normal investor does not have access to or they are too busy looking for bargains in area's where there are non to be found.

Gearing as explained is only part of the great property investment puzzle. To make it work properly and safely I have explained many more investment skills and knowledge are needed. Buying well below market value with built in equity (Value Investing) means you not only create the upside on day one, but you also look after the potential downside if things got worse after purchase. I practice safe investing "Value Investing".

As they say "Fortune Favours The Brave".

Jonathan Clarke

1:37 AM, 11th May 2012
About 8 years ago

I haven`t looked in depth at these particular  figures but I agree with Maverick and the  principal of gearing is sound and it is true today as was in 1997. It may take you maybe a bit  longer now than in 1997 to get to where you want to be but 80% gearing high yield high cash reserves and stress tested to say 8% rates works for me.

 I agree a rising market and 85% LTV as it  used to be  helped me to  grow quicker back then but by borrowing as much as you can at around 5% and making at least 20% ROI each time is the way forward. Gearing your investment and making around £300 + per property means each property is a successful business in its own right. The more you have the more you will make. After a while it becomes self perpetuating because you can soon save up for your next deposit with your high cash flow each month.  When you get to that stage you dont have to rely on rising prices but simply use cashflow to fund the next one. 

Far from out of date thinking its very current. I dont agree with Tim when he says sit on your hands. I am purchasing a 4 bed at 100K at the moment. It will positive cash flow  £600 gross at  75% LTV  . Thats £7,200 pa. Its about 10% BMV maybe. Its on a 5.49% fix for 5 years. So thats 36K passive income in 5 years. I dont really care whether house prices dip 10% its the cashflow that counts. With a 20yr mortgage I will worry about that when it comes in 2032.  By then I`m thinking it will be at least double the price i bought it at so maybe 200K. The rents will rise of course but even it they dont I will have gained a tidy 144K in cashflow  by then.
Buy property and wait - dont wait to buy property

8:01 AM, 11th May 2012
About 8 years ago

Bravo Jonathan way to go and keep it up. As you say its all about what you buy, and now is a great time to buy. Don't forget to buy with built in equity as well as good income. It's still OK to have some low income returning properties with high built in equity balanced with high income returning properties and low built in equity. That can lead to portfolio cashflow safety while still boosting your equity bottom line.

Remember prices going up in the future are not guaranteed, properties in Germany and Japan have been stagnant for 15 years, so make your money on the purchase to be safe, lock in the equity on day 1; you make your money on the purchase not on the sale.

If you are going to walk the gearing on gearing line make sure you acquire all the other skills needed to go with it. From Jonathans writings I can see that he has.

As they say "Education will make you a living, self education will make you a fortune."

Mark Alexander

8:44 AM, 11th May 2012
About 8 years ago

Hi Jonathan

Regarding the "4 bed at 100K at the moment. It will positive cash flow  £600 gross at  75% LTV" how did you arrive at those figures? The mortgage will be £345 a month and then you have additional costs of insurance, maintenance etc on top of that. On that basis the gross rent needs to be £1,000 pcm. That being the case, you are looking at 12% plus gross yield. If that's what you are achieving then I agree with your strategy. 

My point to Kelvin was that he was advocating 80% gearing on properties yielding 7% gross. What I was pointing out was that such a strategy is very high risk without a substantial liquidity reserve (cash in bank of say 20% of debt value) and/or significant disposable income from other businesses, employment or investments.

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